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STOP THE BULL: THE “REAL” REASON BEHIND THE RAW RATINGS

by / 05.27.2014

Last night on “Raw”, a baby bull literally had his tail ripped out of him, then went to the back and had a trainer apply an ice pack to the wounded area as he screamed in agony.

And you know what ?  I didn’t have a problem with that.

rawBeing involved in the writing of a weekly wrestling television show for the good part of 15 years, one of the things I vowed not to do when I started “Pyro and Ballyhoo” was to criticize the writing teams at both the WWE and TNA for various, and obvious reasons. For one, it has to do with something that Michael Cole proudly boasted during last night’s “Raw” telecast. Michael duly noted that “Raw” was the longest running episodic television show IN THE HISTORY OF TELEVISION! And, Michael was dead on—WWE should INDEED brag about that.

That being said, my mind immediately goes to one place–the often unheralded WRITERS of all those shows–written for all those years. Sitting here, thinking, and as badly as I want to explain to you just how difficult it is to write a 2 hour show every week–let alone 3 hours—I just can’t justify with words. You’ll never truly understand unless you were a part of it and experienced it. To come up with fresh ideas, week, after week, after week–regardless of what stresses you may be dealing with in your personal and professional life at the time–can, at times, be TORTURE!!! And then, as a writer—there are just some times where you DON’T FEEL LIKE WRITING. You just want to step away, take some time for yourself, let your mind relax, and maybe even drink a nice cream soda. But—you can’t. There is next week’s show, and then the one after that. That is the reason why every five years I would just hit a brick wall–and move onto something else. People who write wrestling are not MACHINES. They are writers—they are creative. You can’t turn out Shakespeare just because that’s your job—it doesn’t work that way.

ballsHowever, if you do get past all that and you have your next show–then here’s the next hill you climb: that show will be inspected, dissected, torn about and critiqued by individuals above you who, many times, ARE NOT writers themselves. So, since they’re not writers, and they have to leave their fingerprints on what YOU wrote–many times that means changing the show, which in turn waters it down, which in turn makes it a COMPLETELY different show–a lesser show–which you will eventually get blamed for because you were the one who had the SPAULDINGS to start the process in the first place because nobody else had the tools to do so!!!

Then—you go to your third level—which brings on a whole new set of WONDERFUL CIRCUMSTANCES as the TALENT now gets involved. OK–who’s hurt, and can’t do what? Who has a better idea? Who doesn’t like that, because he can’t see the forest from the trees? Who decides what—in their mind—doesn’t make sense?

All those dirt sheets (some–not all–they know who they are) that criticize the writing of ANY wrestling show should just try this process for ONE WEEK. I guarantee that if you did–you would have a whole new respect for those you’re lambasting for a living on a daily basis.

So I won’t criticize—no matter HOW BAD I think something may be. I will “ask questions” as to why, and maybe suggest “what I would have done”, but I will by NO MEANS take a piping, hot dump of their work—like so many uneducated critics can’t wait to do. Yes, I am a writer, and yes, I do write for my own website and I DO NEED to be honest, however, if I do have something to say–99.9% of the time it will be done in a light and entertaining way.

mvpAnd—I just want to add one more thing on this topic. Unless you are there, and you know what is going on, and why things are happening the way they are—it’s DAMN difficult and wrong to criticize WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE THE FACTS! Here’s an example—about a few weeks ago MVP made an unsuspecting “turn” on “IMPACT”–a SWERVE if you will (even though I explained in an earlier rant that it wasn’t a “turn” at all, but MVP just staying true to his character under those circumstances). While I was on Twitter, hordes of fans attacked this decision by the TNA writers—-because it was “too soon”. For starters—whether it was “too soon”, or not—is just a matter of opinion and all subjective. Secondly—you have to ask yourself–was there a REASON why they did this? So–I went to my “sources” at TNA and I presented the question. Now first—with me—you have to understand that my sources are 100% legit—because many of them are my friends. The info isn’t coming from “so and so who HEARD”, or “so and so who THINKS”, or “so and so who’s SPECULATING”. Trust me–that’s where a good majority of the “information” comes from pertaining to the IWC world. It was just a few weeks ago that some Profoundly Wrong Information was reported about yours truly–saying that I was still under contract with TNA, even though my contract with them became null and void in February 2012. So—getting back to my “source”–it was explained to me that the MVP turn was needed because Kurt Angle was slotted to have the next program with Eric Young, and Kurt blew out his knee. So being handed that situation, the writers looked at their list of available heels, and felt it wasn’t sufficient for what they needed—so—the decision was made to turn MVP. Not maybe what they wanted to do, but perhaps what they had to do with the cards they were dealt. Now do you understand? Unless you had known that information—how could you ever have formed an educated opinion?

happy-familyBut–in going all the way back to where I started—I had ZERO problem with the baby bull story from “Raw” last night—and here’s why: the show is rated TV-PG. The WWE has made it clear for years now that the “Attitude” is out, and the “Families” are in. Just a business decision. The same as when Turner made the decision to get out of the wrestling business. Was it that the WWE was now a public company? Was it that they wanted to attract more sponsors? Was it because family friendly content was easier to produce? Was it all of the above? Who knows? But, whatever the case—that’s the decision that was made from the top, and going forward that’s the road the company was traveling. So–when it comes to baby bulls, Easter Bunnies, dance-offs—-I have a problem with NONE OF IT—if family and kids are your target audience.

But HERE is where the problem with the WWE and its current ratings lie.

Moments after the baby bull was decapitated from behind, John Cena was in the middle of the ring telling Bray Wyatt, “Payback is a B***H!”. Whoa—now wait a minute. If I brought little Johnny, and he came to see the baby bull—what do I do now? Do I cover his ears? Do I up and leave? Do I never come back to see another WWE event live? Do I stop watching the show all together? What do I do with this BLATANT MIXED MESSAGE THAT WAS JUST THROWN MY WAY?!!!

Press Conference To Announce A Major International Event At MetLife Stadium“You can’t be half pregnant”.

Vince McMahon said that to me many, many years ago, and it has become my #1 rule when scripting wrestling. What Vince meant was that when you make the decision to do something—YOU GO ALL THE WAY WITH IT! So, the WWE made the decision to go family friendly—they told us all–however, the problem is that they’re not going all the way with it—-they are BEING HALF PREGNANT. Is this because in reality they, themselves as a company, haven’t bought 100% into it, and are just trying to “appease” the board, or, are there other reasons simply steaming from greediness?

Could the reason they haven’t committed one way, or the other, be this simple—from a philosophic point of view—the WWE is trying to capture EVERYONE!? Whereas networks these days are going for the demo P (people) 18-49, the WWE is going for P 5-65. In other words—in typical Vince fashion—they want it ALL!!! And, in theory, there is nothing wrong with that—it’s how Vince made all that money. Go for it all—and leave nothing behind. But that’s only in “theory”.

DX-ReunionBack in 2002, I almost went back to the WWE because I took it personally that, within the matter of a little over a two-year span, their ratings  had split in half from the time that I had left–they had fallen below a 3.0. Today–a DOZEN years later—the ratings are still where they were then. When it comes to eyeballs on TVs every Monday night—half of the people are watching now, compared to when the “Attitude Era” was in full stride. Yeah—they’ll fling every excuse at you. Primarily—the television landscape has changed with the internet, iphones, ipads, whatever–OK, good argument. HOWEVER–if that were the case, then why hasn’t the NFL lost half its audience in the last 12 years? They’re on TV, right? Other ways to watch their product are out there—just like in the WWE’s case.

No–that’s a BS excuse. We saw within a five-minute span on “Raw” last night why the ratings are HALF of what they used to be. In attempting to obtain ALL—the WWE has literally alienated, or “turned off” half their audience in the process. Don’t believe me—see what the IWS community has to say about last night’s “Raw” today. Yeah—they loved the Shield brawling with Evolution at the end—but, the baby bull—not so much. And what about the “families”? Oh, yeah, that bull thing was “cute”, but John Cena swearing—not so much. Now, if you keep doing this week in, and week out, the things you “don’t like” will eventually start to build, or add up—until all of a sudden—it’s OK if we miss “Raw” this week. Well, this week turns into next week, and the next week—until they’re not watching anymore.

By trying to be “all things to all people”–which they can’t be—nobody can–the WWE has shot themselves in the boot. For every kid they are gaining, they are losing an adult, and for every adult they are gaining—they are losing a kid. It a switch-off, an exchange, a vicious cycle.

fans

Sometimes, we talk, but, we don’t quite hear ourselves. In our minds we know what we have to do—but we just don’t do it.

In an effort to “have it all”, we lose a lot along the way.

Pick a road–any road—but, stay on it.

Remember–”You can’t be half-pregnant.”

NUFF SAID.

67 Comment

  1. TNA did have a serious lack of heels, I totally get the MVP turn and while I saw it as to fast they covered it perfectly and it made sense and worked. They didn’t rush or ruin it.

  2. If people just read your article about MVP people will understand.That is why when you write the show wrestlers need to have mic skills to connect with people.one question now that Daniels is entertaining when it comes to the mic.have you change your perception about him?

    • A LOOOOOOOOOOONG time ago!!!

  3. Strong article. Such a simple thing, yet kinda getting more overlooked as time goes on. Though would say it’s not 50/50 in terms of audience trade-off. Think you lose more adults with the intelligence-insulting material than you lose kids/families with the TV-14 material. Can still have a cutdown show for kids, and lots of parents will look the other way regardless. Much worse things on TV! Things parents allow kids to watch.

    Another way WWE are half-baking is with the main magazine now. I mean, there is a “WWE Kids” magazine too… Like, as though the full WWE mag is not suitable for kids?! (it certainly isn’t fit for adults!) I used to buy WWF mag and Raw mag, but now would not be caught dead buying either of the current ones.

  4. I agree with a huge portion of this article, when I view Raw there are things I love, things I hate, and things that make me flip the TV off because I’m afraid my girlfriend might see it and question me for even watching it. I have no problem with them being TV PG or PG-14 but you are right they need to define that and stick with it. I want a bit more consistency to the product, I don’t have to like it all, but I don’t want to turn it off either.

  5. I agree with a lot of what was written in this article but I strongly believe they’re loosing rating due to the loss of talent as well as dragging out talent that has long been on the scrap heap. For instance..how far have the ratings fell off since CM Punk left? How badly will they dip with Bryan sidelined? Last but not least is there really a need for Brock Lesnar or The Animal in 2014 and does anyone really think the Game has still got it? Who does HHH think he is? He’s supposed to be a hall of famer but in his last few matches he reminds me of Vince trying to Square off with Stone Cold! I don’t know about you but I never wanted to mention those 2 in the same breath when speaking of in ring ability. I think they’d be better off giving the newer talent more of a bush instead of bringing back Evolution. It’s just one mans opinion but I’d rather see the Wyatt’s and the Hounds go at it instead of finding new ways to drag along with the has been storyline’s with John Cena and Evolution. At least in part this is why people turn it off. How many different times can the same people fight on TV and at PPV’s until it gets stale and boring? Looks like the WWE really wants to find out and in a word…CLICK.

  6. Great column.

    I cannot blame the WWE for wanting to stay in PG mode. Jim Ross said it best in an episode of Legends Roundtable. Being a PG product has helped WWE increaee their revenues and has allowed them to have other sources of income coming from every direction. Families, women, kids are three vital sources that contribute the “bottom line” and WWE is not going to kick that to the curb.

  7. Great article, Vince. I will say this–going public made this company an entirely different monster. I miss the days when they were the renegades. I think that is why we fall in love with characters such as Bray Wyatt, CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan. They remind us of when it was must-see TV. They give us flashbacks of how fun everything used to be. I miss those days.

  8. interesting vince, if i get you right wwe wants to be edgy but odesnt want ot offend their sponsors and the families that are attending the shows.

  9. vince you worked with the greatest mic worker of all time brian pillman,how crazy was he behind the scenes, was he easy to produce or script? or was much of his promos improvised?

  10. I’m confused about why you argue that a critical viewer or member of the IWC needs to have an ‘educated’ opinion to argue about the execution of an angle, as in from the viewpoint of a writer or member of creative. Just because I don’t understand the process doesn’t mean I can’t hate what I see on my screen. Why do I need to know that Kurt Angle is hurt to believe that the MVP swerve was done too soon? I’ve seen many poorly executed swerves and many calculated, well-planned swerves. And why do you assert that the writers felt they had to, given the cards they were dealt? Certainly there were other options.

    I use this scenario as an example primarily because I haven’t seen how the MVP swerve played out and have no opinion on it, educated or otherwise, and because it’s what you referenced. Just curious why it’s necessary to have a knowledge on the inner workings of creative to have an opinion on a storyline of a TV show.

    • I think it’s because most of the IWC-viewers tend to speak from a business-perspective, always about draws, ratings, what they need to do to get buy-rates etc, etc. It’s not from an entertainment-aspect but instead of a self-perception of what they believe would do great for the company itself.

    • It’s not necessary at all. It’s just that in knowing all the facts you will have a more “educated” opinion. It’s no different than anything else. I’m a HUGE SF Giants fan–before I second guess a manager Bruce Bochy decision–I’m first going to try to look at the logical reasons as to WHY he made that decision. I’m not going to have a knee jerk reaction without trying to understand what was behind it. But, that’s just me.

  11. First of all Vince you are supposed to be a TV lover, you watch everything. Surely you of all people should know that you can cuss on TVPG programming, if it’s strong all they do is add the ‘L’ rating. WWE’s Tough Enough a few years back with Stone Cold was TVPG L and had bitch, bastard, son of a bitch, prick and even asshole was a frequent word used. All on a PG rating. Now granted that is a side show, just likes Total Divas is and that is rated TV14. The big sponsors go for Raw, Smackdown and their big PPV events.

    One week prior to WWE going PG in July 2008, Shawn Michaels bladed and bled heavily in a match with Chris Jericho. When you booked the Attitude Era, the first half, arguably the better half, it was completely PG. WWF Monday Night Raw did not get a TV14 rating until early 1999, everything on TV prior was PG. When Smackdown launched in North America it too was PG, it was TV14 in Canada but the US rating was PG infact WWE boast about that fact on their website. What about Smackdown? Zack Gowen? Mr McMahon vs his family? Terrorist angles? Many angles with Undertaker. The amount of violence and blood shed on that show over the years was worse than most stuff on Raw and that is A TAPED SHOW, they had the show 2 days prior to it airing and the networks still rated it………….PG! Of course you can cuss and have blood and have sexuality on a PG rating, you might need to change it to TVPG DLV but it’s still PG. The whole family friendly thing is a WWE thing, just like the no blood policy, it can be changed at any time. WWE would like fans to think the reason those things aren’t on the show because of their PG rating but in reality the PG rating has nothing to do with how WWE is booked.WWE is solely to blame for it and you’re right they do want to please everyone.

    I agree families should be able to enjoy the show but the truth is families have always enjoyed wrestling, even in the Attitude Era. Raw is on from 8pm-11.15pm on a Monday night, a school night! Over 81% of the audience is over 18. Those are WWE facts! So most people watching are over 18. Why are they aiming the show at kids then if 81% watching are over 18!!!!! How many parents really let their kids stay up to 11.15 on a school night to watch wrestling? If it was really all about the families how about 5pm-8pm? It just doesn’t make sense. I do think for every fan they lose they gain a fan. That doesn’t mean the audience grows, it just stays the same. Those empty seats get replaced but the house shows don’t sell out, TV doesn’t sell out every week, it’s not like it used to be. All they have is a core audience. I know being mature doesn’t make the show better, neither does blood or swearing but you can’t deny that with the right characters and athletes it did make it more believable. That cannot be denied. There is very good reasons why so many people have tuned out completely.

    • I think you missed my entire point. Of course you can cuss, of course you can bleed, you can do whatever you want to do–but–having kiddie segments backed up to more adult themed segments—within the same 10 minutes–that doesn’t exist on ANY TV show—and never has. Larry David doesn’t put on puppet shows during “Curb your Enthusiasm”.

      • But if he did, it would be pretty, pretty good.

  12. I tend to have a back up show to watch while Im watching Raw. I can just flip to something else when something bores me or a dumb segment comes on.

  13. what’s “the IWS community”?

    • Internet Wrestling Community. Critics who evaluate the wrestling business on-line.

      • I suspected that the S was a typo, but I got confused because you added the word “community” after the abbreviation even though the C in the IWC should be enough.

  14. The
    Bull thing is MUCH worse than Cena swearing because the Bull thing
    insults my intelligence. Honestly, it insults the intelligence of a ten
    year old, imo. “Bitch” isn’t that “bad” of a word either, imo. But
    having a midget in a bull costume, screaming in agony over his tail
    being ripped off, is just beyond stupid, it’s embarrassing. TV PG
    doesn’t = the Muppet’s, and I’m not even sure the Muppet’s would have a
    character react that way to losing a tail. I suspect Henson would have
    went with a humorous response to it.

    It’s
    scenes like the Bull scene that just makes wrestling fans look like
    morons. I sometimes believe that’s what Vince, and WWE writers believe
    they are.

  15. “Bro” “Can I be honest?” “Let me shoot with you” lol I really hope you’re the HEAD WRITER of TNA again very soon (much longer than a few weeks) and BEST OF ALL a on screen heel again. I don’t understand why it feels like everyone’s searching for a missing link but you seem like the person that could make Wrestling Popular again. I believe YOU know what fans want and THEY don’t even realize it until it finally happens. Especially with everyone still laughing at all of the stuff you did in WCW and still amazed at how awesome The Attitude Era was. I’m entertained with it! Lots of people say it’s stupid and will talk about how you ruined the business or whatever but THEY’RE STILL TALKING ABOUT IT! Judy Bagwell on a pole match! People STILL TALK ABOUT IT! Hell Judy Bagwell may be more over than Buff is! Really though WCW from Late 1999-2000 is my favorite era of WCW. The Triple Cage coming to life. The Young Stars battling the older stars and the older stars STILL MEAN SOMETHING when doing it. Disco Inferno oweing the Mafia Money! The inside jokes that I didn’t get THEN that I watch NOW and laugh at. People say it was horrible when you made yourself the WCW World Champion. I say SCREW THAT! If that title ACTUALLY MEANS SOMETHING (and I believe it does) THEN DAMMIT YOU DESERVED IT! I loved Hacksaw Jim Duggan in Team Canada and even as a Janitor! I’m afraid with all the hate that’s going on with TNA that people will talk about how terrible it is even more “Now that Russo is on the Sinking Ship!” but then again people are talking about how good EC3 and SHAW and SPUD and Bromans are. Sometimes people may say “This is so bad I gotta see it” and it ends up being good because now they like it! Hopefully this huge amount of TNA being sold ends up with the biggest swerve of all time. Russo saved his money from WCW and BOUGHT TNA! … A fan can dream though… a fan can dream…

    • Thanks for the nice response, Joe, really appreciate it. At the end of the day it’s just all about being entertained—that’s it. I’ll never understand the critical spirit as long as I live!

      • and thats it. the IWC love to get their panties in a bunch about the dumbest things. when i go to a movie, i like to be entertained, i dont care how the critics didnt like Spider Man 2 because it wasnt Real enough and looked too cartoonish. same with pro Wrestling, I’ve been a fan since 1974. Watched Gorilla, Buddy, Bruno, Andre. all the way until now. did I have a problem with taker losing at WM30. NO. it was entertaining. while some of the stuff WWE does is a bit corny, like with the Bulltail. but who cares. its one segment. IWC always say Womens Matches are Pee breaks, and they dont care. I actually like to keep my “Man Card” in check and like watching pretty ladies wrestle, if anything I take Pee breaks during tag matches like monday’s Orton/Batista vs Rhodes brothers match. or Iron Man matches. I still like Goldust, Cody, Orton and Batista, but i know that their match will get stretched out for TV. Fans need to lighten up. its not cool anymore to hate everything, or force your opinions onto others. The IWC always seems to rally behind one guy. Cena in 2002, Punk in 2008, Daniel Bryan in 2013. and whine and bitch when that guy isnt getting pushed right, so when the WWE finally pushes them. they bitch that he is stale and pushed down our throats. WWE cant win. cause the IWC only likes wrestlers who are not getting pushes. they dont care about the actual wrestlers, most IWC are sheep. they only follow a certain opinion and then move on.

        Vic Venom…LOL never had a problem with your booking or anything you wrote, cause it entertained me

        • Great comments, Shaka!!!

      • I’m one of the rare few that was not a fan of the attitude era. I watched Nitro instead. I watched Raw on tape but fast forwaded through most of it. Austin annoyed me beyond belief. I thought the creative process during the attitude era was amazing, even the lowest guy on the card got a storyline, something that is non-existent these days (hell, there are maybe 2 storylines going on at a time and that’s it now, everyone these days is just shoved in a ring to wrestle with no background or build up). My issue was I just didn’t like any of the characters that were popular at the time. I liked the stories they were in, but I did not care for the characters (prime example, Droz “puke” pushing Hawk off the titan tron, hated both guys, couldn’t wait to see how it played out though). During that time I had the opposite problem watching Nitro, there were guys I loved watching but they had ZERO going on for them because the nWo was the only story WCW every focused on between mid 96 and early 99. That being said, Nitro during the original Russo era was one of my favorites, it was nice to see characters I enjoyed get storylines to watch them be in. I said it before, David Flair? He had no right to be in a ring, then you gave him a crobar and he became extremely interesting and entertaining. One of my favorite Nitro’s is when the Outsiders ran around backstage looking for Goldberg and Scott Hall had a cold. They put luchador masks on “looking for el goldbergo” then they both downed a bottle of cold medicine and tried to confront Goldberg in the ring and didnt even make it half way before passing out. Laughed my ass off. That’s entertainment damn it! Loved your WCW run. Loved it.

        • There is a story behind the “cough medicine” incident—and I will post that on here soon. You will go hysterical when I tell it!

          • That’s awesome! Can’t wait to read it!

  16. Hey Russo TNA took a nosedive after you left! I remember when you 1st came to WCW i thought the exact opposite! Man I thought I hated that stuff back then because it was too much like Raw! Ive never liked change much but sometimes its nessicery. Though Ive never been an McMahon fan I do like the fact he knows what hes doing when it comes to wrestling. Just not crazy about his conquor all attitude. I love the WWE Network because i can sit back & netflix the whole big 3 Ppvs but at the same time miss the days when the big 3 were still here! Watched FallBrawl 00 the other night which was a fairly decent WCW ppv! We couldnt order it because our cable system had errors on wcw ppv nights all the way thru the next few ppvs till the end! Poor T N A needs something & i actually hate criticizing it because i was a fan from the beginning. Its going thru a rough spot right now!

    • The WWE Network is no doubt a great thing for wrestling fans. Some of that older stuff we’ll just never see anything like it again!

  17. And forgive my comment it was off the wall but 1 im tired right now & 2 im on this dumb smartphone!

  18. I dont watch Stamford since 2009 but i do think they would really like to go back to the 80′s cartooonish personas,it would be easier for everybody for the writers and from a merch standpoint,because of kiddies ,but they cant because they would lose a lot of the audience strictly connected to the product only because of some strong personas and thanks to some good athletes who came from ROH, which is symbol of quality for all the wrestling fans.

    At the end of the day they would like to rebuild the 80′s but they cant and they still make millions and it’s all good for them.People should wake up and dont watch the product if they only like a match or two segments on an entire evening

  19. I think it’s absolutely hilarious how all these years the IWC has been unabatedly reported negative wrestling articles (esp. on the creator of this site); and now the biggest joke of it all is how Vince, with his new site, has essentially beaten them at their own game by being a legit IWC website with unbiased leanings. Haha.

    • You could say it’s the biggest swerve of all? All jokes aside, great article.

  20. I think the arrogance is such that they could care less about the ratings or expanding the audience. They’ve been content with their insular, tightly-wound conservative status for a long time now. They want cookie-cutter talent telling boring, predictable stories because apparently that inspires business confidence. The problem is when the business side gets unpredictable, shareholders feel screwed, and your stock price plummets 50% in one day. What that results in is everything being evaluated, including the product and the ratings. So now you can bet there is pressure, but somehow I still don’t expects any drastic changes from a company too wrapped up in self-worship. I’ll believe it when I see it. And it really has very little to do with the content rating in my opinion. Plenty of PG shows get over because they use strong characters who convey a sense of spontaneity, and the stories rely on anticipation and surprise. It’s not entertaining to just have a beginning and ending to a story with a bunch of filler in between. You’ve got to have dramatic, unpredictable things happening throughout the course of any successful drama. It’s pretty freakin’ simple unless you have a mindset that precludes wanting to actually entertain an audience in order to draw money.

    • very good insights.

  21. Imho mainstream pro wrestling on T.V needs an off season. Have the season start off on the New Year and end it on September or something to that affect. During those off season have the wrestlers do house shows but keep it limited so they don’t over work themselves. With that you bring out fresh ideas once the new season rolls and gets the fans anticipated for the next story.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. I think the model is broken on many different levels.

    • that’s how NJPW handles their buisness. they have 1 PPV a month, and the rest are 3 official house shows every month that you can also pay to watch per view but don’t burn you out on the product and are easy to write since they’re simple house shows. and the model works very well!

  22. Hey Vince, you should use this t-shirt design. (see http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/archive/t-shirtism )

    I’d buy it!

    • Bro—even I would buy anything DISCO!!!

  23. I agree wholeheartedly with this column I’m getting to the point where I’m saying “it’s OK if I miss RAW this week” and it’s starting to happen alot lately.

  24. Your Sir are a Legend.

  25. Well written and thought out article Vince. While I’m sure there will be no lack of “keyboard Rambo”editors and ratings experts “slamming you, I commend the work. Vinny Mac always suggests we have something for everyone and if anyone has read HBK’s book…..you know that is a constant theme. The baby bull on Raw is a comedy sketch to lighten things up and cleanse the viewing palate for the fans before the next segment. The way I see it, whether it’s John Cena cursing to portray his character’s “anger” and make the fued with The Wyatt Family “personal” which is the build to the blow off…it must be a personal stake….to me it hurts the PPV or “special event” product. Here’s why. Bray Wyatt, The Shield, Evoulution, Kane, like most fueds are built on a personal score that MUST/WILL be settled….you dirty rascal…you’ve wronged me and I’ll get even! Fine…..cool…Im watching…I’m interested. Ok…..”special event or PPV” match…..go. Aweful. Why? PG. All things to all people right up until that curse by Cena…..like you mentioned…at “TV-PG” makes the “TV-PG-13″ at that point HURT the actual final blowoff. In the Attitude Era….can you imagine…….IMAGINE Bray Wyatt vs …say Stone Cold Steve Austin in a cage? Holy #$%^&*!!! (PG exclamations). Blood gone, chair shots to head…outlawed…great idea? Yes…..BUT ok…..John Cena…NO MORE cursing…I dont care what time it is when you say it. Half Pregnant. I dont have the hookups aka facts to give a much better opinion nor will I sit here and destroy your opinion or WWE and TNA’s writing based on uninformed intell.
    To me, it hurts the overall product with the PG rating……it”s like getting a haircut……if you shave your head…there’s NO going back…..BUT if we don’t cut as much…we can always take more off at the end. AHHHH….SO…if they DID have a higher rating ie then can they not go with John Cena’s four letter stick of dynamite AND Dad with little Timmy knows this beforehand and is OK with it because his son was blown away by the baby bull and Adam Rose’s guy dressed as a Cheeseburger exclaiming he’s “delicious!” Hmmmmm. Then at the “special event/PPV” chairs, blood…..four letter words all over the place……and a HOLY S**t review Monday FOLLOWED by a Raw rating that just about breaks the ratings boxes. Vinny Mac can have it all but not both ways.

  26. Great blog Vince. Agree 100% with you. How you been my man?

  27. Hey Vince,

    What do you think TNA should do to make themselves stand out? Continue with the IMPACT365 stuff? Focus on the X Division? Do you think they stand out now?

    • I’m not Vince, but I could answer that.

      Go back to the formula that made them exciting in 2005. Have WRESTLING be a focal point, minimize a good majority of the more inane story lines to those that make sense in the context of the feuds, Keep It Simple, Stupid (can’t stress this enough for BOTH sides of the fence), and make the feuds feel organic. Have a more adult-orientated organization.

      The 6-sided ring was nice, but felt more like a gimmick than a 4-sided one. And quite honestly, if the angles felt legit, no one is going to give a damn about if the ring has 4, 6, 13, 1,000, or however many sides.

      Quite honestly, I see things like how ECW flipped things on it’s head. I’m not talking about having stupid amounts of blood and guts in a match. I mean have a product that is harder-edged, more maturer, than the main promotion. As in other words, the time has LONG SINCE been overdue for the industry to get a giant kick in the balls. A promotion just needs to have the same balls to do it.

  28. god i wish we could go back to pg 13
    having loved watching in the attitude era it was something great and su, flipping back & forth with WCW it was something great & surprising every night, the writers took more risks and pushed as far as they could, everything was great. Now they are publicly traded, have NO competition (wrestling), and MMA probably took alot of their demo 18-49. IDK if it will ever be the same. SOMEONE needs to go and do something new & unique

  29. Save us Russo!

    • Save us!!!

    • Save us!!!

  30. Raw has been so bad for the last few years, I canceled my Sky Sports subscription and stopped buying ANY PPV – bear in mind that for many years it was unthinkable that I wouldn’t buy the PPVs and I just HAD to watch them live, I couldn’t wait at all. I needed to see what happened, when it happened – but over the last few years it’s so painful that I just download Raw, SD and NXT and on Saturday I get through all three shows in about 1 hour, 30 minutes.
    All the annoying dancing, the leprechaun, the magic sock puppet, the horrible and / or boring workers they push like Cena, Batista, Orton, Wade Barrett, Sheamus, etc the bad writing, the dumb gimmicks like the neon-coloured bull fighters, the ballroom dancer, the leprechaun, etc everything is painful to try to watch. They have a lot of good talent, but they often put them in the ring with people who suck which makes it unwatchable.

    • Good insights—and you made a good point—the buck begins and ends with Vince—period. It starts at the top, and finishes at the same place. It is still HIS company.

  31. So Vince, you’re telling me guys like Austin Aries, Bobby Roode and James Storm don’t exist? There’s lots of more credible guys they could’ve gone with rather than MVP.

    • No I don’t think he is saying that at all double a bobby roode and James storm are heels currently, they needed some one new to work the program with ey that’s all

  32. This is my first time reading your blog, but you bring up a very good point. The half-pregnant theory goes with the storylines as well. It’s insulting as a fan when a new storyline occurs that completely ignore previous ones.

    Whatever happened to long time rivals? It’s unrealistic. It’s like watching a soap opera where Ericka Kane steals ladies X’s husband a few months prior and the next season the two ladies are on a road trip to Vegas together. Shouldn’t they still be at odds with each other? Shouldn’t they at least bury the hatchet prior to becoming friends? And if they they do bury the hatchet why did they? Consistency is key as well.

    Also, noone has a purpose anymore. One thing my friends and I did in college when playing Smackdown v Raw when we made our own characters was we would explain why that character was in the WWE (they were mostly weird characters and they purpose was comical) but it made the game more fun to play. Same thing with the real thing. Why is Raw fun to watch? What is each talent’s purpose for being on the show? There’s no depth to the product.

  33. I think you’re spot on. While I don’t think that they need to go back to the over-the-top, blatant, frat-boy, sexuality-laden theme of the Attitude Era, I think they do need to pick a lane. You can’t have poster boy John Cena being half-booed out of the building every time he talks. You can’t have heels becoming more popular than faces. All of this is a reaction by the greater (older) fanbase. This is your Attitude Era fanbase being a little older and wanting to still watch the product – but expecting something closer to Game of Thrones than TMNT. WWE needs to realize that its fanbase is older, smarter, and more informed now more than ever. Why do they cheer guys like Bray Wyatt, Bad News Barrett, Cesaro, The Shield (before they went face out of necessity) etc? It’s because they appreciate the performances. There are no faces (outside of maybe Daniel Bryan) that are giving them that performance level. So, they are left to cheer on the new heels because they entertain them the most. John Cena is a stale character, so he gets a lot of jeers from the crowd. It’s a new era. Guys are getting over no matter if they are booked as a face or heel. The fans are purely looking at whether this guy entertains them or not. Part of it is also that heels have been neutered to an extent. They can’t be as ‘heel’ish as they’ve been in the past. The violence is way toned down. I suppose this whole PG thing is ok for young and new fans, but any fans that where there for the Attitude Era just see watered-down retread story lines. What is considered a ‘tough match’ or ‘crazy bump’ these days is nothing.

  34. WWE will never admit there is a problem. For years the excuse has been “wrestling goes through highs and lows,”. I believe they exact term used was “peaks and valleys”. I don’t think a “low” has ever lasted this long in the wrestling business. They have basically been in a down trend since 2006 creatively, even before that ratings-wise. If you look back, it seems ironically enough back in 2002 when they went from WWF to WWE, the audience fell apart. Not for that reason, but it’s an interesting coincidence. March of 02 they were doing 5.0, July of 02 3.5. Been downhill ever since, what are the official ratings these days? 2.7? That’s in-line with what they did in 1995 when they were supposedly at their all-time worst in terms of finances, ratings, attendance and Superstars. Sounds kind of familiar…but again, the refusal of admitting there is a problem allows the problem to continue. Until Vince can put his ego to the side and realize what he’s shoving down our throats is being throw back up, it’s just a continual downslide. I mean they’re rumored to be thinking about going back to being a private company for God’s sakes. If that isn’t enough of a wake up call I don’t know what is. There is no creativity in wrestling anymore. It’s the same plot and predictable outcome over and over. Nothing new is being introduced, nothing fresh, nothing even personal or relatable to the audience which is extremely important. Vince is going out like Ric Flair, way past his swan song and into tainting his amazing career with not knowing when to stop. He’s out of touch with what an audience in 2014 desires. I do not know that HHH knows what’s truly “best for business”, but Vince no longer does.

  35. Mister Russo, this is the second time I have read one of your blogs, and it has changed my perception of you a whole lot. I mean, I already admired what you did in the Attitude Era and TNA Wrestling, but what I didn’t admire was some of the things you said about professional wrestling.

    For starters, I absolutely detest the terms “IWC” and “marks” because well.. they always sound so derogatory (although some fans deserve it) so I prefer the term “wrestling fan”. I have been writing for some time now about the wrestling business. I am not one of those dirtsheet “reporters” who like to make up stories, or overexaggerate something to gain hits, I am a pure wrestling fan, working as a volunteer for a website that does bring the “news” on a daily basis.

    I have written many articles and have been praised for my insight, despite the fact I am an English fan and I’m poor as shit, so who knows if I would ever get the chance to see WWE or TNA in person, but yeah .. I like to assume that I have done my research and know a considerable amount despite never being behind the scenes. I always knew that certain booking decisions cannot be intepreted without all the facts, and I said the exact same thing about the MVP turn. It felt rushed, and although the hints were there in prior weeks, it didn’t have the build that it should have. Thank you for confirming what I suspected, there was another factor involved.

    I didn’t like you much at one point. I can admit to that. It was easy to hate you, after seeing all the pure hatred from fans, not just on the internet, but at events with the fans chanting “FIre Russo” during a terrible segment (even if you were’nt employed), it told me that you wasn’t a very nice guy. I watched the TNA segment with Roddy Piper, I listened to so many interviews with Cornette, I was convinced that you was one of the worst people in the business.

    You have to admit though, some of those WCW segments you did, it went a little bit too far. We didn’t really want reality tv, we wanted a story like only wrestling could provide. Some people were well into that, but not me. I can only imagine how hard it would be, to be in that position for so long, to have to think of new things every single week with no motivation. I find it hard to write more than once a week, just because … I don’t have the motivation or the material, I can only write so much before I get frustrated with writing, so I can (kind of) see where you’re coming from.

    I would love to write wrestling shows, but like you said, with so many dipping their own ideas into the pot, the end result isn’t what you originally set out to do. I can imagine how frustrating that would be after a while, and why you may have a short temper for certain talent who don’t want to cooperate and trust your vision.

    The thing is Vince, with what you made in the Attitude Era, both WWE and TNA continue to try and replicate similar magic with storylines you brought into existence. It feels like I’m watching a repeat every single week, but the repeat has been edited and watered down so much it has barely any impact whatsoever. There’s only so many times I can see a SWERVE authority heel turn, ending up with a faction that runs wild over all the roster to the point we get sick of seeing it.

    It’s so easy for me to say .. why can’t they hire new writers who “get it”, who understand wrestling and ain’t those kind of writers who write for hollywood, but rather, actual wrestling writers who can come up with original ideas. Neither WWE or TNA want to do anything risky that could give them main stream attention. That’s what you was all about, shock value, telling a story that grips people due to its edgy nature.

    The thing is, wrestling isn’t like that today. People always say .. “We want the Attitude era back!”
    That will never happen, society has changed, TV has changed, everything has changed to the point that even if they wanted to bring back the attitude, it would never be the same. Fans would be disappointed.

    What made TNA so great in the beginning, was not the edgy storylines (although they set the tone to show that TNA was a true alternative, which was integral), but rather, the competitive nature of the wrestling itself. There were so many awesome talents in the earlier days of TNA who were seen as cool and fresh. AJ Styles, Joe, Daniels, Petey, Sabin, Shelley, Sonjay, Lethal, the list goes on and on, these guys brought in a style of wrestling that wrestling purists enjoyed, and they were able to act out the edgy storylines to get people to care for them in the first place.

    It’s not like that anymore. People don’t give you enough credit for what you did for TNA Wrestling. You was one of the key cogs in the machine, without you the machine wouldn’t have grown like it did. I still admire The Beautiful People to this day, I love wearing my TBP t-shirt. That’s what is missing from wrestling, talent that are booked into a place that suits them. Velvet Sky as a babyface?? No thanks. I want to see her be bitchy, I want to see her represent the fake generation of people who think they are hot because they can afford boob jobs and tons of makeup. That’s relatable, and I love it.

    WWE is not relatable to me whatsoever. I don’t care for the bull, I don’t care for Cena, I don’t care for the same names at the top all the time. Batista coming back and winning the rumble right away. It’s crap. I mean .. seriously. What happened to the Royal Rumble. WWE only has one good thing left and that is Wrestlemania, and I suppose the network (still not available in the UK) and that is a damn shame.

    I want to say more, but this is turning into a grand essay. So I just want to say that I am sorry for being a judgmental person, it’s not like me to jump to conclusions like that, I guess I got pulled into the whole “Fire Russo” thing, which appeared to be the cool thing for a while. I look forward to more of these, and I will be writing my own article expressing my opinions on this article. Cheers.

  36. Great Article, got here from another site featuring what you had to say. I am 27, so I was a teenager during the “boom” years. I have watched Raw since it first came on the air, and still watch it today. I 95 % agree with your article, The problem in my opinion is that they do not have any star power, there is horrible character development, I watched what you (Vince) had to say in an interview a few days ago and you said it was important to you that EVERYBODY had something to do, or had a place that could show off there character. Now the writers have someone as talented as Dolph win the title, get a concussion and lose 8 months straight. He was over when he won the title on Raw, and now gets stuck doing segments with wolverine. Looking back at your work, from D-Lo to Stone Cold your development was and is the best in the business. In my opinion Raw now reminds me of a pre-attitude era, its boring and bland.

  37. WWE is said to be looking to produce a more adult-oriented follow-up to the baby bull:

  38. Vince, I live in Northglenn and would LOVE to opportunity to pick your brain one afternoon. Hopefully one day soon, you’ll give me the chance to do so.

  39. And once again, Vince Russo knocks one out of the park.

  40. Raw is practically impossible to watch. I’m 32, grew up on the early 90′s and late 90′s Attitude Era. I didn’t mind the mid 90′s as much, but really now, I ordered the WWE Network just to get away from today’s product. I have more fun watching mid 2000′s Russo-run episodes of Nitro over Raw today. I find WWE Raw should be called WWE Contrived. There’s nothing natural about it, maybe a few segments, and CM Punk, but even he’s gone, and the show is watered down with ridiculous baby bull’s and the unbeatable Hornswoggle. I like some of the segments, anything including the talented Shield and Daniel Bryan. But they have beat a dead horse for so long (or dead bull in this case) that only 30 minutes of the show is actually watchable. The rest is filler, and 3 hours full of it is ridiculous.

    You’re absolutely right Vince, I have no incentive to watch week after week. There’s nothing real about it, and if they applied some of the late 90′s work rate to today’s product, it would be much better. There is no sense of urgency, they are the only show in town, thus they feel they can put on a lackluster show, thinking the fans will buy into anything. Great point about the adults and kids turning away theory. People will essentially give up, either a child or an adult, because the product is too wish-washy.

    The continuity isn’t there, and the mid card is absolutely horrendous. I remember back in 98 and 99, every mid card superstar had a story line. Jarrett was involved, Val Venis, The Outlawz, X-Pac, Mark Henry, Kane, Too Cool, D-Lo Brown, Bulldog, Taka, Bart Gunn, the list goes on and on. Everyone had a story you could invest in. Now, those stories are predicated by a baby bull doing stupid crap that nobody truly cares about. You couldn’t wait to watch Raw back then, it was must see TV. The comedy was actually funny. 1999 Rock was absolute gold. As was Lawler. He was so good on commentary. Listening to him now is like listening to a screeching chalk board. The commentary is so corny.

    Everything from the top down is watered down. There are some shining moments and wrestling action, and some wrestlers who are actually entertaining. But for the most part, the show is a complete shell of what it once was. Which is a shame, because it could potentially be so much better.

    Thanks Vince for our insight, this site is great!

  41. I agree 100% with you Mr Russo. An avid fan from the attitude are, thankyou very much by the way :) I have lost ALL interest in Wrestling completely. If I hear certain names I tune in only for their bit and fast forward as you put it the “BS”. Names like Brock Lesnar, The Rock, Triple H, Randy Orton, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Goldberg, Batista sometimes, Evolution, DX “Nature Boy” Ric Flair “woooooooooooooooo”, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Pro-Wrestling is dead and I have said for years now that the future of Wrestling lays in it’s past. All these newbies couldn’t lace the boots of real Wrestler’s like above. Ryan from Northern Ireland.

  42. Two nit-picky points: 1) TNA didn’t have a suitable heel other than MVP to go against Eric Young? What is James Storm, chop liver? Robert Roode (albeit I’m not certain if he’s a heel anymore or not), an attempt to shoot Ethan Carter to the top, a second attempt at Magnus? Somebody at TNA isn’t thinking hard enough. Heel authority figures are played out; even if MVP is a much better heel than face, at the very least he needed to stay face for awhile to cement his ‘director of wrestling operations’ role. After six months or longer, then he reveals his true colors, leading a repentant Dixie to return as a face and attempt to take the company back. Instead, they just rushed the whole thing in a matter of mere weeks, and in utterly confusing fashion. Dixie declared ‘war’ on the MVP faction at the end of the last Impact, but that was only after attempting to work with them to destroy babyface Bully Ray. Not exactly a solid face turn there, especially when Dixie still hasn’t settled the score with Bully.

    2) WCW was at its most successful when it offered a wide variety of different styles each week, so I’m not sure I completely buy the whole ‘half pregnant’ theory. Personally, I doubt the whole El Torito losing his tail thing was specifically done for the kids as much as it was to appease Vince McMahon & his juvenile sense of humor. These ‘writers’ (I prefer the term ‘booker’) are ‘writing’ to make the boss happy, and if the audience follows along it’s icing on the cake. Several former WWE ‘writers’ have confirmed this in various interviews, Google it.

  43. Vince, with all due respect, thats a cop out. If they can’t handle the heat. They should get out of the fire. I haven’t been a dumb teen in a while, so I already accept that I have no idea how challenging it is to write a weekly show every week of the year with no time off.

    But in no way is “my job is extremely challenging” a get out of jail free card for criticism. Along that line of logic, we shouldn’t criticize congress because we don’t know how hard it is to pass legislation?

    Fact is, if it is a vitriolic environment for writers they need to create a cycle that keeps fresh writers in and writing, and burnt out writers off and recouping their creative energies. There is no good excuse for poor creative. Only monetary realities. “Im paying you so work!”. Well this is creative. Its not moving boxes. It takes a little more than a good breakfast to get the job done.

    So given the environment that is forced on creative, I agree with you, that its a highly demanding job. But, that doesn’t excuse WWE or whoever else is burning their writers candles at both ends from putting out a sub par product. And that doesn’t excuse the writers either. If you’re schedule is burning you out. And you in good conscience can hand in “subpar work” and not care because “you’re tired of all this crap”. Then you are part of the problem.

    All of this being said. This puts you in a unique position. Fact is, you are well known for being centric to a lot of creative processes in the business. And in my opinion, that entitles you to criticism more than anyone else. Maybe you are personally tired of being the scapegoat of the industry for the last 14 years, and I dont blame ya. But now you are on the outside. Now its your turn to take pot shots at people who aren’t getting the job done. Enjoy it.

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